By LEAH TROUWBORST
For Your Niskayuna
NISKAYUNA — As the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown gears up to induct new members, the New York Credit Union Hall of Fame has added to its ranks Jim Mack, a Niskayuna resident and former community development officer for Sunmark Federal Credit Union.
The Credit Union Association of New York (CUANY) adds two new members to its Hall of Fame every year.
A long list of accomplishments qualify Mack for this plaque. When Sunmark CEO Bruce Beaudette said “Jim has devoted his career to the New York state credit union movement for the past 30 years,” he was talking about tangible effects, like when Mack increased the assets at St. Clare’s Hospital Employees Federal Credit Union by a factor of 10 — from $500,000 to $5 million — while serving as manager and CEO between 1984 and 2008.
He was also talking about hard work. In the past seven years at Sunmark Federal Credit Union, Mack presented more than 100 financial literacy seminars to more than 1,400 attendees at various businesses, colleges and back-to-work programs. And above all, Beaudette was talking about the progress for all New York state credit unions brought by Mack’s 20 years of service on the board of directors for the New York Credit Union Foundation.
“There was no online banking and there were no credit cards 30 years ago, back when credit unions were getting started,” Mack explained in a recent phone interview. Now these are the most basic services offered by credit unions, and on the higher end of the spectrum Mack has made professional development grants available to every credit union in New York state.
How did Mack react to the announcement that he’d made the Hall of Fame?
“When I got up on stage, the first thing I said is, ‘This is really cool,’ ” he recalled.
Of course, the audience understood there was a lot more behind the words. It was Mack himself who founded the CUANY Hall of Fame back in the 1990s, when he served as chairman on the board of directors. “I guess you kind of think, ‘Someday I could be there,’ ” said Mack. “It’s nice to put that exclamation point — well, that period — on my 30 years.”
Since starting at Sunmark, the credit union philosophy of “people helping people” drove Mack to focus on educating people to better run their personal finances — specifically saving them from making those little mistakes that snowball into big problems.
“When people pay their rent late, and pay $25 extra, they don’t realize that’s essentially $25 stolen from their own pocket,” Mack said. His goal, then, was to help people plug careless leaks of money.
Upon Mack’s retirement last month, a friend told him that “every night is Friday night, and every day is Saturday.” But Mack plans to throw himself into his responsibilities as treasurer for Habitat for Humanity of Schenectady County, a position he’s wanted to prioritize for some time. He also attends weekly meetings of the Schenectady Rotary club, of which he is a member.
According to a recent news release, the purpose of the CUANY Hall of Fame is “to honor individuals who devoted/have devoted their lives to the philosophy and success of the credit union movement and who have had a significant impact on credit unions at the local, state and/or national levels.”
Membership at Sunmark, based in Latham, has exceeded 47,000 members. Albany Business Review ranked it third in an evaluation of Capital Region credit unions this year.